Creating Opcodes

An opcode is just a function which takes a BaseComputation instance as it’s sole argument. If an opcode function has a return value, this value will be discarded during normal VM execution.

Here are some simple examples.

def noop(computation):
    An opcode which does nothing (not even consume gas)

def burn_5_gas(computation):
    An opcode which simply burns 5 gas
    computation.consume_gas(5, reason='why not?')

The as_opcode() helper

While these examples are demonstrative of simple logic, opcodes will traditionally have an intrinsic gas cost associated with them. Py-EVM offers an abstraction which allows for decoupling of gas consumption from opcode logic which can be convenient for cases where an opcode’s gas cost changes between different VM rules but its logic remains constant.

eth.vm.opcode.as_opcode(logic_fn, mnemonic, gas_cost)
  • The logic_fn argument should be a callable conforming to the opcode API, taking a ~eth.vm.computation.Computation instance as its sole argument.
  • The mnemonic is a string such as 'ADD' or 'MUL'.
  • The gas_cost is the gas cost to execute this opcode.

The return value is a function which will consume the gas_cost prior to execution of the logic_fn.

Usage of the as_opcode() helper:

def custom_op(computation):
    ... # opcode logic here

class ExampleComputation(BaseComputation):
    opcodes = {
        b'\x01': as_opcode(custom_op, 'CUSTOM_OP', 10),

Opcodes as classes

Sometimes it may be helpful to share common logic between similar opcodes, or the same opcode across multiple fork rules. In these cases, implementing opcodes as classes may be the right choice. This is as simple as implementing a __call__ method on your class which conforms to the opcode API, taking a single Computation instance as the sole argument.

class MyOpcode:
    def initial_logic(self, computation):

    def main_logic(self, computation):

    def cleanup_logic(self, computation):

    def __call__(self, computation):

With this pattern, the overall structure, as well as much of the logic can be re-used while still allowing a mechanism for overriding individual sections of the opcode logic.